DELTA BELLES by Penelope J. Stokes


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Four friends under varying degrees of desperate circumstances meet at their 25-year college reunion..

As payback for a practical joke (the “Burma-Shave incident”), freshman Delta Fox mischievously signs up three friends to participate in the fall talent show as the Delta Belles All-Girl Folk Band. It’s 1965 and the group sings—in long blonde wigs, à la Mary Travers—“Blowin’ in the Wind,” with “If I Had a Hammer” as an encore. The group is a hit, and continues to play shows until graduation, and the girls—affable Delta Fox, mysterious Rae Dawn DuChamp and North Carolina twins Lauren and Lacy Cantrell—deepen their friendships. Their lives are somewhat messy: Rae Dawn reveals her trailer-park beginnings, while Lauren, jealous of her sister’s happiness, seduces her sibling’s boyfriend on a secluded bank in the park. Despite their closeness, the Delta Belles lose touch after graduation until their 25th reunion, when Delta’s little sister orchestrates a gathering of the quartet. She’s worried about her sister: Delta’s husband, pastor Rankin Ballou, was recently murdered by a wife-battering ex-member of his congregation in front of his beloved wife of 23 years. The Delta Belles rally to the rescue and the plot thickens. Will Rae Dawn reunite with her lover, Noel? Will Delta regain her faith in God? And will the twins finally reconcile and regain their closeness? Stokes’s Christian readership may be dismayed by Lauren’s premarital sex and resulting pregnancy, and Rae Dawn’s lesbianism (though the topic is handled with empathy and skill).

Similar in plot to her past works (Circle of Grace and The Blue Bottle Club, not reviewed), although fans aren’t likely to complain.

Pub Date: June 13th, 2006
ISBN: 0-385-51014-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2006